Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections on blogging

I missed my 8th blogiversary a few months ago. In fact I slept right through it. But recently in a reflective and expansive moment I dug from the archives an old pod cast interview from back when I started this blog. In it Kent Bottles asked me questions about why I blog and what I get out of it. I listened to it for the first time in years and was surprised to learn how little my attitudes have changed. So it's time to reflect. Here are my current ideas on blogging. Save for some nuance here and there they're pretty much the same as when I started:

1) I maintain a clinical focus. In 2005 there were a few hundred medical blogs but most were personal diaries or soapboxes. Very few featured hard core clinical topics. I found I had a niche. Not many other bloggers were doing what I planned to do. Since that time the number and quality of clinically focused blogs has increased (this seems mainly to have come from nephrology and emergency medicine) but I find there's still plenty of room for what I do.

2) Many of the so called clinical blogs back then were little more than news aggregators. I knew then as I do now that very little meaningful learning comes in the form of breaking news. Medical progress plods along incrementally. It builds on what was known before and needs to be explained in terms of what was known before. And now we have Twitter. How can you microblog complex medical issues with the nuance they need? I'll dump in a link post now and again but for the most part I try to provide perspective.

3) Beyond the fact that I was doing this in large part for myself I started out with clear objectives about my audience. I would direct my posts to health care workers, mainly physicians and physicians in training. Satisfying the learning needs of two vastly different audiences at the same time, clinicians and consumers, is extremely difficult and I know of only rare instances when it has been done effectively. Nevertheless many bloggers seem to be trying. Either that or they haven't bothered to address how they want to define their audiences. I believe it's best to define my audience even if I pay a price in traffic.

4) Finally, blogging helps me. It motivates me to read and maintain an edge in the content area of my work in hospital medicine. I have a long list of journals and other sources I scan regularly. When I run across an item of professional interest I blog it. This has produced an organized set of on line bookmarks I can access anywhere, anytime, when I'm looking for this or that article either for personal reference or to share with a colleague.

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